Last updated: April 28 at 4:30 p.m.

The FAQs will be updated frequently.

  • NEW: Vaccination information updated April 28
  • Masking requirement updated April 28

Frequently Asked Questions

Health & Safety | In the classroom | Student Life | Tuition & Finances
Masking | Testing| QuarantineContact Tracing | VaccinationsWellness Center

Community Health Commitments & Interim Policies

The health and safety of our campus and community involves each of us—students, faculty, staff, Sewanee residents, and visitors. In order to continue on-campus experience safely, we must all commit to doing our part to help prevent an outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus. This is most clearly stated in a set of Community Health Commitments every member of the Sewanee community is expected to support and is also outlined in the Interim Policies.

Masking Requirement


See the updated masking policy as of April 28.

Previous policy (Jan. through April 28): All University employees, students, Sewanee residents, and visitors are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in public or inside buildings other than private residences, with five exceptions:

  1. When they are alone, 
  2. When they are asleep (such as in a residence hall room or hotel room), 
  3. When they are eating or drinking, 
  4. When they are maintaining a social distance of six feet or more from any other person, and
  5. If they have a documented medical condition that precludes their wearing a face covering. 

Certain events or facilities may have additional masking rules. You should always have a mask with you—and when in doubt, wear your mask. The cloth face coverings recommended are not PPE, medical face masks or respirators. Currently, those are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.

Will The University Supply Masks?

Yes. Students will be provided with masks if they need them. We strongly encourage students to bring their own masks so clean ones are available when needed.


Unless instructed otherwise, residents of campus housing are not required to wear a face covering or to socially distance while alone in their own room or suite.


Face shields may not be substituted for masks or cloth face coverings. Shields protect the eyes of the wearer from external spray, but do not effectively cover the nose and mouth. Face masks protect others from the wearer, who might unknowingly be infected. The greater concern now is the virus being carried in the air from a mouth or nose. A cloth face covering—when we all participate—will significantly decrease the spread of the virus. Anyone wearing a face shield must still wear a face covering or mask.


Will I be tested when I REturn to campus?

Yes. The University will test all students upon arrival at the Fowler Center COVID-19 test site. Testing will occur between 8 and 11 a.m. on the student's assigned arrival date between Jan. 27 and 31. The University will begin testing employees on Jan. 20 prior to the start of the semester.

Should I get a test before I come to campus?

While you may be able to be tested before coming to campus, because a test only reflects your status at a certain point in time, you will be tested again upon arrival at Sewanee even if you receive a negative test result at home. If you are tested at home and receive a positive test result within the two weeks prior to your scheduled arrival on campus, please contact University Health Services (931.598.1270) to report your results and discuss your plan for isolation and delayed arrival to campus.


Not necessarily. If a student has recovered from COVID-19 symptoms, has completed a full isolation period and then tests positive at Sewanee’s arrival assessment, that does not mean that they will be sent home immediately to isolate. If you contract COVID-19 during the break, please hold on to paperwork documenting your positive test result, and share it with the Public Health and Wellness Center teams by emailing it to and

We would prefer to receive your documentation prior to the beginning of the semester. However, part of our arrival testing process will include these questions:

  • Have you recently been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19?
  • Have you had a positive COVID-19 test result in the past few months?
  • If so, did you complete the required isolation period?

Sewanee’s Public Health team will evaluate this situation on a case-by-case basis.

What kind of test is Sewanee using?

Our new Sewanee Molecular Diagnostics Lab (SMDL) will be performing our tests on campus. The test itself will be a highly sensitive PCR test that amplifies any particles of viral RNA that may exist in the sample. This particular test is the most sensitive assay to detect even small amounts of viral genome that may be present. For the spring semester, Sewanee samples will be gathered via a self-administered simple swab of the nostrils. Results are expected to arrive during move-in days within about 4 hours after collection.


Because the PCR-based diagnostic test performed at Sewanee’s new testing lab is highly sensitive and detects different viral genes, it is very unlikely that one of the current variants will be missed (i.e., return a false negative result). In the near future, the lab will have the ability to identify which variant is present.

What happens after MY COVID-19 test?

After a test is administered and before the results are known, students may not move into their residence hall room. Students will be notified as soon as test results are available. 

What if my test is positive?

Students who receive a positive test result for COVID-19 will need to return straight home for at least 10 days of isolation and recovery, during which a student can continue classes by remote means from home. Students who are unable to return home quickly and safely will isolate and recover near campus, as the University has housing options and a plan for students’ care.

Will I be tested again during the semester?

Yes. Similar to the fall semester, the University plans to do weekly (surveillance) testing throughout the semester, using the same type of test described above. You may be subject to more frequent testing if you are at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, or if you have been in close contact with someone who tests positive.  


We are monitoring the local, state, and national situation daily. We will consider Rt figures, hospital capacity, average new cases per day (on campus, in the county, and in the region), and other data to make policy decisions regarding changes that affect students on campus.

Quarantine and isolation (back to top)

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine is used to keep someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Isolation is used to separate someone with a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 (both those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.

Should I quarantine at home before I come to campus for the spring semester?

Yes. We ask that students complete a 7-day quarantine at home prior to their assigned arrival day. (Please see CDC guidelines for instructions on how to quarantine.) Once the quarantine period is complete, and if students have no COVID-19 symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19, they may travel to campus. While in transit, students are expected to maintain physical distancing, wear face coverings, practice frequent hand-washing, and follow all applicable CDC and Tennessee Department of Health guidelines.

Under what conditions might I need to quarantine during the semester?

Individuals will be requested to quarantine if they have come into close contact with someone who has a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. Although various agencies define “close contact” differently, the University currently defines it as follows:

  • Individuals who are known to have been in contact (within 6 feet) for 15 minutes or longer with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. 
  • Individuals who have attended in-person classes or participated in activities with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 and who had close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes). 
  • Anyone who traveled with you in a vehicle unmasked.
  • Individuals who share a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and/or common living space with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19.

All quarantined individuals will need to test negative for COVID-19 and remain symptom-free for several days before returning to their usual campus activities.

Where will the University quarantine and isolate students if needed?

The University has designated St. Mary’s Sewanee (a conference center) for students who need to quarantine, become sick, or who test positive for COVID-19 to be safely isolated from other students and community members. Care will be provided and meals will be delivered. The University also maintains a close partnership with the on-campus hospital to manage any severe health challenges.

Students who need to quarantine (who might have been exposed but are not sick) will be managed on a case-by-case basis. They will receive support for food and online learning until they are medically cleared to return to campus.

Can/should I return home to quarantine or isolate?

The University requires all students to complete 7 days of quarantine prior to returning to campus. Note that only those students who are specifically requested to return home to quarantine or isolate will receive room and board refunds for a designated period.

Can I keep up with my classes if I’m quarantined or in isolation?

Yes. Student participation in classes when quarantined or isolated will continue if the student is well enough to do so. All faculty members will share course materials via Sewanee’s learning management system, including recordings of class lectures and other relevant resources, for students who cannot be present physically for some period of time.

How will sick students be cared for?

Students will receive medical care from the health care professionals in our University Wellness Center. Care may be provided via telemedicine or in-person follow-up. The University also maintains a close partnership with the on-campus hospital to manage any severe health challenges.

How long does isolation or quarantine last?
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be asked to isolate for at least 10 days, depending upon the severity and onset of your symptoms. Those without symptoms will be asked to isolate for 10 days from the date of their positive test.
  • If you have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19, you will be asked to quarantine for 7 days from the time of your last exposure.
  • If you are sick and awaiting test results, you may be asked to quarantine until the results are received.

Contact tracing and notification (back to top)

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing monitors the close contacts of infected people, and notifies those contacts of their exposure.  

How will contact tracing happen at Sewanee?

The University must notify the Tennessee Health Department when anyone tests positive. In addition to any contact tracing performed by the Health Department, the University will conduct contact tracing specific to students and employees as necessary. When a student receives a positive diagnosis, they will be asked for a list of contacts during the two days prior to experiencing symptoms so that University tracers can do their work. 

Who will contact me if I’ve been exposed?

You will be contacted by the University Public Health officials.  


You will be asked to quarantine and study/work remotely until your quarantine timeframe is over (7 days from the time of exposure). 

How will I know if someone on campus (Student or employee) tests positive for covid-19?

Anonymous information about the number of negative and positive test results is available via the University's Daily COVID-19 Dashboard. You will be notified individually if you have been exposed (you came into close contact with the person who tested positive and so you need to quarantine).


In case of exposure to someone with COVID-19, you may be notified by the Tennessee Department of Health, University Health Services, or a campus contact tracer. You might speak with a combination of these departments in the interest of timeliness and depending on your need for campus services. You will be asked to quarantine and study/work remotely until your quarantine timeframe is over (7 days from the time of exposure).


I am eligible to be vaccinated early in the rollout. Do I need to return home to receive my vaccine, or can I be vaccinated while at Sewanee?

Update April 2021: Vaccinations are available to Tennessee residents ages 16 and older. They are available for students at University Health Service, through other providers coming to campus for vaccination events, and by taking either University-provided or personal transportation to a vaccine site off campus. Refer to the information provided March 26, March 30, April 1, April 5, and April 15.

Previous information: The answer is complicated. The allocation phases for COVID-19 vaccines (i.e., the plan for how and to whom vaccines get distributed) varies by state. The Tennessee distribution plan uses both risk-based and age-based criteria. For further details about who qualifies within each phase, please refer to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.

If you qualified for earlier vaccination in your state than is currently provided for in Tennessee (refer to the guidelines in your home state), you may need to return home to complete your vaccination series. Regardless of the reason for your trip, any travel away from campus requiring an overnight stay will necessitate a 14-day quarantine, per the University’s policy. 

However, this will not be necessary for most. The Franklin County Health Department is offering the Moderna vaccine to eligible people by appointment—if you qualify, add your name to the waiting list. Local hospitals, such as Southern Tennessee Regional Health System in Winchester, have access to the Pfizer vaccine. Students will need to contact each vaccination provider on their own to establish the availability of the vaccine and make an appointment. The University Wellness Center and Public Health team cannot make appointments on a student's behalf.

I have already been vaccinated. How can I provide documentation of my vaccination status?

Congratulations! If you have received the full series of shots required by your vaccine’s manufacturer, please upload a copy of your documentation to this portal.

If I have already been vaccinated, do I still need to be tested weekly?

Yes. It is great that you have been vaccinated, but you will need to continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and remain compliant with Sewanee’s weekly testing regimen. Although the vaccine works well in preventing disease in the individual who receives the vaccine, it is not certain to what degree the vaccine prevents asymptomatic spread of the virus to another individual. A vaccinated person could be infected with the virus, never develop symptoms, and transmit the virus to someone else who is unvaccinated.

If I have been vaccinated, is there a possibility that I will test positive for COVID-19?

The vaccine does not have any effect on the validity of our PCR testing results. This is true for several reasons. The messenger RNA (mRNA) from the vaccine is not incorporated into our DNA in any way. Also, the PCR test looks for parts of mRNA that are not included in the vaccine. The vaccine is also injected into the deltoid muscle of the arm, which is distinctly different and physically distant from the epithelial cells that we collect for testing. A vaccinated person might test positive because they have been infected (though not ill), but the positive result will not be due to the vaccine. 

Do I need the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?

Yes. While it is believed that those who have already had COVID-19 are less likely to be infected again, the amount of immunity conferred by a previous infection is highly variable and uncertain. You should still be vaccinated when you become eligible.

Will Sewanee host vaccination events on campus?

Update April 2021: The University has hosted several vaccination events on campus for students and employees. University Health Service offers vaccination to students, and beginning April 19, Walgreens pharmacists have been on campus to vaccinate students and employees.

Previous information: Sewanee is looking into the possibility of hosting large-scale vaccination events on campus for students and employees. However, the feasibility and timing of these events depend on several factors that are, at present, difficult to forecast, including the availability of vaccines and the number of individuals on campus who qualify for vaccination. We will provide updates as they become available.

Note: Please continue public health measures even after COVID-19 vaccination.

Please be aware that even though you are vaccinated, you will still need to closely follow the 3W’s—wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance—and to continue to test on a weekly basis throughout the semester. Even though you are vaccinated against COVID-19, it is not clear that vaccination alone will help to reduce asymptomatic spread. For example, you could get the virus and while it would not make you sick, you still could spread it to others as you sneeze, cough, and breathe throughout the day.

University Wellness Center (back to top)


University Health Services is committed to providing quality care in an environment that is safe for everyone. To that end, UHS will offer appointments at specific times of the day for those who are well. Additionally, UHS will rotate rooms for sick visits, allowing for time for room sanitation in between patient visits. UHS will continue to provide remote telehealth services as well, in order to decrease the in-house patient load and decrease student exposure. UHS offers telemedicine appointments conducted through a secure, HIPAA-compliant portal for students directly connected to our Electronic Medical Record.


Students should call UHS (931.598.1270) for triage, appointment, and testing options. Students with upper respiratory infection symptoms can be tested at University Health Services.


The University Wellness Center and Wellness Promotion and Outreach teams of the University Wellness Commons are aware of the mental health impacts of the global pandemic on our students. We are being faced with great uncertainty and unprecedented grief about how life has shifted since March 2020, though for us, the story does not end there. We are still committed to building a flourishing community in the midst of this pandemic. The University Wellness Commons will provide an array of offerings during the Easter 2021 semester in addition to individual and group therapy, including drop-in opportunities, virtual workshops focused on stress management, Koru mindfulness classes, support for multicultural and minority-culture students, and opportunities for skill-building to improve academic performance. The entire University will also have free access to Sanvello, a mental health support app. This app is meant to be an adjunct to traditional therapy and can be used by anyone with a account. The Peer Health Education team will continue to provide peer support and education for health and wellness. Outdoor and virtual fitness offerings, livestreamed meditation sessions, and the UWC social media content will all be avenues for accessing mood-boosting tools. Please join us as we take care of ourselves and this community!

Helpful Information